Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Stumbo Recommends $600,000 Lupron® Settlement to Promote Uterine and Prostate Health Programs at UK and U of L

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, March 07, 2007  
Contact Information:  Vicki Glass, 502-696-5643 Office  

Attorney General Greg Stumbo today announced that he is transferring $600,000 to the General Fund to benefit Kentucky uterine fibroid and prostate cancer victims.

“After reviewing many worthwhile proposals submitted by medical organizations in Kentucky, I am today recommending to the General Assembly that the $600,000 be shared equally between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.  UK intends to establish the Kentucky Center for Uterine Fibroids and the U of L Brown Cancer Center plans projects on prostate cancer prevention and education,” said Attorney General Stumbo. “I would urge the General Assembly to consider these proposals during its next budget deliberations.”

These funds were recovered by the Office of the Attorney General as part of a settlement of a federal class action lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturer TAP Pharmaceutical Products, Inc. (“TAP”) which manufactures and markets the high-priced cancer drug Lupron ®. The lawsuit arises out of illegal and improper marketing and sales practices on the part of TAP to inflate the price of Lupron® and induce doctors to prescribe it, sometimes even bribing them.

Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, approved by the United States District Court in Boston, Massachusetts, these funds are intended to be used to benefit, directly or indirectly, consumers who purchased Lupron® in Kentucky and/or Kentuckians who suffer from prostate cancer, uterine fibroids and precocious puberty.  The Settlement Agreement further directs Attorney General Stumbo to use his best efforts to ensure that the settlement funds are used for these purposes.

In keeping with the Court’s mandate, the Office of the Attorney General contacted the Kentucky Cancer Consortium and the Kentucky Department for Public Health and solicited proposals for the use of the settlement funds.

The University of Louisville Brown Cancer Center/Kentucky Cancer Program proposal includes using the funds for enhanced prostate cancer education for patients and the community, improved screening at the community level and the creation of a Kentucky Prostate Cancer Task Force to assess prostate cancer in Kentucky and develop a Prostate Cancer Action Plan for the Commonwealth.

The University of Kentucky Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology proposal establishes the “Kentucky Center for Uterine Fibroids,” a multi-disciplinary fibroid clinic at UK to address the medical and educational needs of women throughout the Commonwealth by providing education, specialized clinical care and research into the causes of uterine fibroids.

TAP is a joint venture formed by America pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories, Inc. and Japan’s largest drug company Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd.  In order to induce doctors to prescribe Lupron®, TAP artificially inflated the price of the drug and provided free samples to doctors and encouraged them to falsely bill Medicaid for the drugs.  TAP also sent doctors on lavish trips and paid them under-the-table discounts, rebates and kickbacks thinly disguised as “educational grants.”

As a result of these activities, TAP and a number of corporate executives were indicted on criminal charges.  TAP ultimately pleaded guilty and paid over $875 million in criminal fines and civil penalties, including an additional $503,256.36 in reimbursements that the Attorney General’s Office recovered on behalf of the Kentucky Medicaid Program.

“The other settlements have been utilized to reimburse the Kentucky Medicaid Program and Kentucky consumers for the inflated prices that they were forced to pay as the result of TAP’s deceptive practices,” Stumbo said.  “I am pleased that my Office was able to recover an additional $600,000 to benefit Kentucky cancer victims through cancer screening, treatment and research.”

The Attorney General’s Tip Line for reporting allegations of Medicaid fraud is 1-877-ABUSE-TIP.